BURN THE JUDGE - R.S. BOHN
“Burn the judge.” Mr. Moretti daubs the corner of his mouth with a napkin and stands. “Thank you.”
He smiles, nodding absently as Carey hands him his hat and scarf. A man with a lot on his mind. I sometimes wonder how he manages to sleep at night. Me, I’m up all hours, thinking about work. You might say I’m devoted.
Jack waits until the door closes before he reaches for Moretti’s wine glass and downs the remaining gulp. I turn my head, grimacing.
“You really shouldn’t do that.”
“Yeah?” he says, reaching for a piece of garlicky shrimp left on Moretti’s plate. “Think the old man’s got some disease or something?”
“I think you got a disease.” I hold up a hand for Carey. “It’s called disrespect.”
“What are you, my freakin’ father or something?” He rubs the back of his hand across his lips. They shine with oil.
I reach into my wallet, pull five folded bills and slip them against Carey’s soft palm. I thank him, and he discreetly pockets them and backs away.Jack glares. “You’re too generous with that guy. How much did you give him today?”
“Does it matter? It’s not your money.”
“He doesn’t deserve it. What does he do?”
I can’t help it. “More than you do sometimes.”
He shifts in his seat, wags a finger at me. “Watch it.”
Carey disappears into the back of the restaurant. It’s after three, no one else is here. Of course, there aren’t any signs advertising the place. No windows.
Just cheap linoleum on the floor, tables like your grandma used to have in her kitchen, Carey, and the best Italian food you ever ate in your life. There were times when I wished I lived here.
He pushes back in his chair. “Come on. Let’s go. Who’s this judge, anyway?”
“What’s your rush? Mr. Moretti didn’t eat all his linguine.”
He leans forward on one pudgy, Armani-clad forearm. “I told you. Enough.”
“Fine. Let me finish my bourbon.” I’ve been swirling it for minutes, watching the last piece of ice melt. Carey comes out of the back just as Jack settles with a sigh. I watch the man, thin as a reed at almost eighty, walk sedately past us to the front door.
“Hey. Carey just left.”
“Why’d he do that? He doesn’t leave until we do.” Sausage fingers tap on the table. “What if I want something else?”
“We’re not havin’ nothin’ else.” I shrug. “Maybe he had an errand to do.”
“Who’s gonna lock up? I ain’t staying here all night.” He sniffs. “You smell something?”
“Jack, for Christ’s sake.” I stand. “I gotta use the bathroom. Then we’ll go.”
As I get to the men’s room door, I look back. Jack’s taking my glass of bourbon.
Let him have it. In the men’s room, I lock the door and make sure the window is open. From under the sink, I take a glass bottle, light the wick, unlock the door.
Jack’s walking to the kitchen, snuffling like a pig for truffles. The bottle smashes in front of the open kitchen doors. I’m already heaving myself through the window when the heat hits my feet.
On the other side, Carey gives me a hand and helps me to the ground.
“Shame about that old stove,” he says.
I grunt, listening to the muffled screams.
The blast rocks us both. He grabs my arm, keeps me from falling over. We walk away from the place, and I don’t look back.
“Sorry about your job.”
He gets into an ancient green Cadillac in mint condition. “It’s all right. It was time for me to retire anyway.” He carefully shuts the door, rolls down the window, and says, “It was a hell of a retirement party. Thank him for me, won’t you?”
The Caddy trundles down the street. I gotta lot of respect for that man. Very polite.
BIO: R.S. lives in a suburb outside of Detroit, where she writes flash fic that isn't usually flashy, and sometimes isn't even fiction. You can find her riding solo at R.S. Bohn.
The Irish Times’ Crime Fiction ‘Best Of’ 2018
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